By Danny Kamlet, PA
Having a baby can be one of the most joyous times of life. It also can be exhausting, stressful and emotional. It’s important for parents to know that these feelings are normal in the first couple of weeks after birth. In fact, up to 80 percent of new mothers experience “baby blues” or “postpartum blues.” However, 10 to 20 percent of new moms will experience a more severe form of depression, known as postpartum or perinatal depression (PPD) that can interfere with daily life.
How do you know if it’s Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression (PPD)?
Take note of the symptoms and their duration. Baby blues symptoms include crying for no clear reason, trouble sleeping and eating, and concerns about properly caring for the baby. If someone has baby blues, the symptoms occur immediately after birth and last about two weeks.
PPD may begin at birth or any time during the first year, and the symptoms are more severe: sleeplessness, lack of appetite, anger, lack of energy and frequent crying are some. Most importantly, unlike baby blues, PPD symptoms interrupt a woman’s ability to function. If you feel any of these symptoms, please let us know as soon as possible. We can help you determine if it is PPD, and if so, refer you to a mental health professional. In addition, at the baby’s two-month well check, we give moms the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. This is an objective measure that helps mothers and health care professionals identify any risk of PPD.
Why Do Women Get Baby Blues?
There are likely a combination of factors that may cause so many women to feel down after giving birth. We know there are many hormone changes during pregnancy and at birth, which can affect chemicals in the brain. This could lead to feelings of sadness and depression.
How to Cope
Remember that many women experience feelings of sadness and anxiety after giving birth, so first off, you are not alone. Other coping techniques include:
- Talking with someone as soon as possible about your feelings.
- Maintaining a healthy diet and getting outdoors as often as possible. Light physical activity (if approved by your doctor) can do wonders for your outlook.
- Asking for help! When friends ask if they can make you meals or watch your other children, just say yes. Take that time to rest or do something for yourself.
- Giving yourself a break. No parent is perfect! Give yourself time to heal from birth and to get used to your new life. Check out Dr. Noah’s recent blog post on Your Newborn: Surviving the First 48 Hours, which has great tips and advice on becoming a new parent.
Remember, use your pediatric office as a resource. Our philosophy is to take care of the entire family, not just the newborn, and we want to see you and your children thrive. Please contact us at 303-399-7900 with any concerns, and we’ll work together to help you through this amazing journey called parenthood!
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
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